The New England Patriots have a ton of money to spend on free agents this offseason.
According to Over the Cap, the Patriots will have at least $62 million available. If they’re smart, they will throw the bulk of it toward a quarterback, some receivers, and perhaps a tight end.
The Patriots lack offensive playmakers in a big way. They certainly need to figure out their quarterback situation, but if Bill Belichick and Co. cannot surround a new quarterback with some offensive playmakers, it will not matter. Their current state on the offensive side of the ball is ugly, and if they do not spend significant resources to address it, nothing will change no matter who is under center. Samuel spent this past season as the No. 3 receiver in Carolina, playing in nearly 64% of the team’s snaps behind Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore. While Samuel was essentially a part-time player for the Panthers, he was a dynamic playmaker for the team who was able to make a consistent impact.
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The Perfect Time to Pounce on Samuel
Samuel doesn’t turn 25 until August, and his unrestricted free agency comes at a time after a career season that saw him haul in 77 catches for 851 yards and 3 TDs. As reliable as Samuel was in 2020 for the Panthers, he fell short of some typically necessary benchmarks if a team would offer a wide receiver a top-tier contract.
Samuel is headed into the portion of his career when the 100-reception, 1,000-yard seasons could come in succession over the next three or four years. The team that signs him this offseason figures to be the beneficiary of his talent’s maturation if everything comes together.
The Patriots would be fortunate to sign what could be a Top-15 receiver in the league from 2021-2024 while paying him in the range of a Top-50 player at the position.
Other Teams Will Be All Over Him
That entire dynamic I outlined above is no magical secret.
Other teams in the NFL who are also in need of a receiver will be looking to capitalize in the same way–assuming they believe in Samuel too.
The Patriots could find themselves competing with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, and even divisional rivals like the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets for Samuel and other talented free-agent wide receivers. Unfortunately for the Patriots, all of those teams–except for the Jets–are far more stable at quarterback.
That could be a factor for New England as they attempt to go shopping for weapons in the passing game. So, what needs to come first for the Patriots, a quarterback or receivers?
It depends on the team’s plan to fill the void at quarterback. If they’re going to trade for someone without a no-trade clause, they probably need to get that done before chasing receivers.
However, if they are looking at a free-agent quarterback or a significant deal for a veteran with a no-trade clause, the Patriots would be better served to have some weapons in place before they go looking for their next QB1.
The explosive receiver played with Patriots quarterback Cam Newton the first three seasons of his career.
In fact, the first four TD receptions of Samuel’s career came from Newton before injuries forced him to give way to Kyle Allen. Perhaps retaining Newton would help to recruit players like Samuel.
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